This weekend, A.V. Club contributor Caroline Siede is watching all of the first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix. After she’s finished with an episode, she’ll post a quick response. Though she’s working straight through the season, she’ll be taking some breaks, too, posting five reviews on Friday, four reviews on Saturday, and four reviews on Sunday. Weigh in on this episode in the comments below or discuss the whole season on our binge-watching hub page.
“AKA The Sandwich Saved Me” (season one, episode five)
Apparently five is the number of episodes I can marathon before my brain goes, “Wait, what just happened in this one?” That’s not exactly encouraging news considering I still have eight more episodes to review, but thankfully I’ve been taking copious notes so let’s dive right in to “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me.”
This episode is our most Kilgrave-focused yet and we also get to spend some time with pre-traumatized Jessica via flashbacks. To be honest, I thought the show would build a bigger contrast between Jessica pre- and post- Kilgrave. But in the flashbacks she’s still the sarcastic, antagonistic woman we’ve come to know and love. Krysten Ritter definitely adds a little extra zip to her performance and Jessica is more frustrated than brooding, but it might have been a stronger choice to contrast the two personalities a little more.
The Trish/Jessica relationship has quickly become one of my favorite things about Jessica Jones and it’s fun to get a glimpse of their happier days here. Their flashbacks reminded me of the Matt Murdock/Foggy Nelson flashbacks in Daredevil’s “Nelson v. Murdock,” which similarly developed the show’s central friendship by exploring its history. 18 months ago Jessica was happy to fight her friend’s battles while Trish was pushing Jessica to use her powers for the greater good. Jessica was just beginning her career as a do-gooder when Kilgrave stepped into her life.
David Tennant is one of the strongest actors working today, especially when he’s cast as slightly eccentric characters rather than generic leading men. Tennant makes the smart choice not to add anything overtly creepy to his performance as Kilgrave. Instead he’s a recognizable real-world archetype: The confident, charismatic man who’s a little too used to getting what he wants. Only here, of course, that latter personality trait is made literal. Kilgrave can actually take whatever he wants from whoever he wants using his mind control powers.
By making Kilgrave more charming than menancing, Jessica Jones is hinting at a hard truth through a superhero lens: Abusers don’t just rely on physical threats. They cultivate a sense of trust and intimacy with their victims that keeps the cycle of violence going. Though Kilgrave is too far away to actually control Jessica, he still manages to engineer a situation in which she’s sending him daily selfies. That non-superpowered psychological control is just as terrifying as his ability to make someone throw scalding hot coffee into their face.
While the Kilgrave stuff is intriguing and the flashbacks are fun, this isn’t one of Jessica Jones strongest outings. The dramatic capture and immediate loss of Kilgrave feels a little bit like the show spinning its wheels, although I did really enjoy the dynamic between Jessica, Trish, and Will—who all have very different approaches to heroism.
Nevertheless, I’m excited to see Kilgrave become a more active player in the series. And I’m definitely looking forward to watching Jessica punch him in the face some more.
Stand out moment: Trish trying to sell Jessica on becoming a spandex wearing masked vigilante named Jewel. (Honorable mention: The cab driver yelling, “Hey, get off the road you stupid sandwich!”)
Marvel Cinematic Universe connections: One of the kids running through Central Park is dressed up as Captain America. Awww!
Excitement to start next episode: 8/10
Hamilton lyric that sums up my mental state: “What’d I miss?”